The pioneer that created and rode the retail boom | india | Hindustan Times
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The pioneer that created and rode the retail boom

india Updated: Mar 28, 2010 23:31 IST
Sandeep Singh

It’s the bank that arguably created — and rode — the boom in retail banking in the country. It’s also the bank that leveraged technology and aggressive marketing to come from nowhere in the late 1990s and early 2000s to clinch the crown of the largest private sector bank in India — and second-largest overall behind State Bank of India.

Look around… ask your colleagues… chances are that a good percentage of them have some ongoing relationship with ICICI Bank — as an account holder, as a loan seeker, as a customer (of home, auto or personal loans) or in some other capacity.

But ICICI Bank, ranked India’s third best in the Hindustan Times-MaRS survey, is the only one among the top 5 banks not to have been ranked No. 1 in any of the 18 cities surveyed.

“The smaller the bank, the better is the service delivery,” says a financial planner on condition of anonymity. “While ICICI Bank has been very good at acquiring new customers, it has lagged on the services delivery front.”

But consumers in four cities — Delhi, Patna, Ahmedabad and Ludhiana — did rank it at No. 2. And, it is the only bank to have been ranked within the top 3 in six different cities.

This indicates a remarkable consistency of performance There’s a reason for this popularity. ICICI Bank was the first in India to introduce the concept of floating rate home loans, the first to roll out an extensive, nationwide network of ATMs, among several other initiatives.

In that sense, ICICI Bank has been the pioneer of retail banking in India.

Varun Khandelwal, a Mumbai-based marketing professional working in a leading media house, is satisfied with the bank’s online facilities.

“I don’t remember the last I visited a branch for my banking needs. I do most of the things online or through ATMs,” he says, adding: “I have faced no problem with the bank’s online service and the ATM facilities in the past three years.”

ICICI Bank has 1,670 branches and about 4,900 ATMs spread across the country — the second largest ATM network after State Bank of India.

The bank, however, went through some tough times in 2008. There were rumours about its financial health. At one time, the Reserve Bank of India had to assure the bank’s depositors that the bank had enough liquidity.

It has since worked hard to restore customer faith and confidence. Recently, it announced several major changes in its retail banking group.

Chanda Kochhar, who took over as managing director and CEO of ICICI Bank in 2009, is believed to be driving efforts to change its aggressive image to one of a caring bank.

However, HT could not explore this aspect further as the management of ICICI Bank refused to comment on the survey.